“Rio” sambas into heart of audience

Rio sambas into heart of audience

Rachel Dinsmore, Mulitmedia Editor

The entire jungle and the tropical birds of Brazil break into a rousing samba number.  Yes, this is the opening scene of “Rio,” which sets the stage for the rest of the movie.

Jesse Eisenburg is the voice of Blu, the only male blue macaw left in the world and possibly the only macaw that cannot fly.  Blu must leave his cozy, comfortable life in Minnesota with his loving owner Linda in order to save his species. It is in Rio de Janeiro that Blu meets Jewel, voiced by Anne Hathaway, the wild female blue macaw who he is supposed to mate with.  But that would make a boring movie, so naturally they are captured by black market traders whom they must escape. 

In this wild, kid-friendly comedy, the setting of the movie is almost the best part. Set in Rio during Carnival, the city-wide celebration complete with costumes, dancing and parades, “Rio” is a glimpse into Brazilian culture. The Christ Redeemer, the renowned land-mark of the city that overlooks the city from Corcovado, makes an appearance.  With aerial views of the city depicted during Blu’s flying lessons, “Rio”  makes audience members want to pack their bags for Brazil.

However, the foundation for “Rio” is most definitely its rocking soundtrack. Full of swinging salsa and samba, it is tropical fun.  Other highlights include songs from Jamie Fox (who voices Nico the bird) and Will.i.am (who voices Pedro).  With Carnival as the backdrop for the story, Brazil seems to be a music-loving party country that makes “Rio” a fun ride.

The casting for “Rio” was spot on.  Jesse Eisenburg is always perfect as the socially-awkward and nervous character, and was well-suited for Blu.  Blu is used to living with Linda and without her, he is uncomfortable.  Another highlight is Tracy Morgan as the slobbering bulldog Luiz, as well as George Lopez bringing his Latin flair to the toucan Rafael.

As soon as baby Blu pops up during the opening scene, “Rio” holds your heart.  Adults and children alike will root for Blu and Jewel as they escape from the evil cockatoo Nigel (Jemaine Clement), a former TV star cast aside.  As Blu grows into himself, and learns to fly in the process, audiences fall in love with each nervous and maturing feather of Blu’s.  Funny but also sentimental, “Rio” is a lively family comedy.    

Rachel Dinsmore is a Multimedia Editor for “The Patriot” and jcpatriot.com.